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Home Decor Tips From a Feng Shui Expert

Home Decor Tips From a Feng Shui Expert

It’s all about the energy

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Breathe in, breathe out. Take a look at your space, your surroundings and the place you call home — does it make you happy? Does it emit all the good vibes?  

If not, there’s a solution: feng shui.

If you’re not familiar with feng shui, it is a philosophy focused on creating balance and harmony between yourself and your environment.

“Feng shui is not a mythical superstitious practice as it is sometimes presented in Eastern and Western popular press, but it rather explains how the physical environment affects energy currents,” says Wei Dong, a professor in the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “It provides insight into design elements that are favorable rather than unfavorable.”

Dong has done extensive research on environmental behavioral and feng shui and has taken students to China on international study abroad programs that examine the concepts of feng shui.

“Feng shui’s fundamental principle is the integration between the universe, human and earth in harmony. In Chinese this is called tien zhen hu yi,” he says. “The goal of feng shui is to invite positive chi into your home through placement and design so your life feels both energized and balanced.”

It might feel overwhelming trying to figure out where to start when it comes to boosting the good energies of your living space, but here are some easy ideas Dong recommends to help you start your journey to a happier and healthier home.

What is the goal of feng shui in your home?

What is the goal of feng shui in your home?

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The goal of feng shui is to invite positive energy or chi into your home to make your life feel energized, organized and balanced. Using feng shui practices, you can change the vibes of your space for overall well-being. For example, a clunky chair with no form or function won't make you happy or comfy, but if you replace it with something that takes up less space and has colors and textures that are proven to give off a calming effect, that specific area goes from tired to inviting.

Yin and yang

Yin and yang

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Yin and yang are the most fundamental concepts of feng shui, and the balancing of yin and yang is an essential principle. “They are two opposite elements that co-exist together. For example, day and night or male and female,” Dong says. “We are constantly looking for the other side.”

How to balance yin and yang in your home

How to balance yin and yang in your home

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The theory of yin and yang is one of the ways you can use feng shui to balance your surroundings. Soft and hard textures, cold and warm colors, dark and light, straight and curvy — these can all play off each other. According to Dong, it is the appropriate interaction of these two forces that creates harmony around you.

Bringing balance to rooms

Bringing balance to rooms

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Design elements should be equal on both sides, whether that’s a piece of furniture or an entire room. “The ideal Feng Shui environment is like an armchair,” Dong says. “A solid back, or a reliable background, so you can focus on what is happening in front of you, and balanced arms on either side.” However, Dong notes that they “do not need to be symmetrical but rather have a dynamic balance that hugs the space.” For example, you can use different furniture to create a physical barrier on the sides of any particular room — like a couch on one side and a chair with a small table on the other — but it should not feel like a solid, closed-in space.

Incorporate the 5 elements

Incorporate the 5 elements

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Another major principle of feng shui is the five elements — metal, wood, water, fire and earth — working together to create something called a constructive cycle that produces positive energy. Each element needs to be incorporated into your design in balance with the other elements.

How to create the constructive cycle in your home

How to create the constructive cycle in your home

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When using the elements to bring feng shui into your home, think about how they can work together in small but meaningful ways. “For example, if I design an interior with too much of a fire feel, it may make people who come in feel more fired up. So, to balance fire we need water,” Dong says. “In that environment, you can introduce some blue color, physical water or some more organic-shaped things to create a calmer feel to the interior.”

How to add water to your space

How to add water to your space

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The term feng shui literally translates to "wind water" in English, and the element is associated with the yin part of yin and yang — it’s more delicate, soothing and passive. The most obvious way to add water to any space is a fish tank, a fountain or a small standing waterfall, but clear glass decor, mirrors or a piece of art depicting water can have similar effects. Objects with curved lines as opposed to sharp or straight lines can give off the same energy as well.

How to add metal to your space

How to add metal to your space

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If you have too much water in a space, you can weaken it by adding other elements like earth or metal. Metal decor can be wind chimes at the front door, metallic vases and wall art, metal frames, a pillow with metallic sequins or even metal dishware. There are all kinds of ways to bring some metal into your space, which in feng shui is associated with dynamic and flexible energy.

How to add fire to your space

How to add fire to your space

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To bring some heat, you can crank up the fireplace on cozy nights, but that’s not a practical design element. Dong says fire does not have to be literal — it can be a bold red color or a fiery painting or be mimicked with different stimulating angles in your interior design.

How to add wood to your space

How to add wood to your space

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There are lots of options when it comes to adding the element of wood to any room: a wooden chair, coffee table, bench, frames and even unconventional decor like natural logs. Add warm, soft candlelight to complement the more aggressive energy of wood.

How to add earth to your space

How to add earth to your space

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In feng shui, the earth element is associated with stability, nourishment and protection, all things we generally want our homes to provide. To bring hints of earth into your spaces, display natural crystals and rocks, decorate with clay pots and stoneware, and use sandy colors like beige, taupe and soft yellows. A Himalayan salt lamp is another great way to bring the natural energy of earth into your home. 

Bring the outside in

Bring the outside in

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Indoor gardening is a popular way to liven up living spaces, and bringing the outside in is an important element of feng shui. You can set up a plant corner with an array of greenery or sprinkle some planters throughout your space. Some easy-to-take-care-of houseplants that tolerate low light include Sansevieria (snake plant) and Zanzibar Gem (ZZ plant).

Don’t block the windows

Don’t block the windows

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If you have windows of any size, don’t block them with a giant piece of furniture. One of the easiest ways to add feng shui in your home is to have fresh air coming in and out and natural light throughout the space.

How to feng shui your entryway

How to feng shui your entryway

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In feng shui principles, the entryway represents where energy enters your home and your life. Take some time to clear out the stacks of shoes or piles of coats and put them in bins or a closet. You should also sweep and dust the area, and if you have space to work with, consider adding a tall plant. Try your best to keep it decluttered and positive, even if it’s as simple as a welcome mat that makes you happy.

Designate a working zone in the home

Designate a working zone in the home

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As opposed to using your entire living space or kitchen counter as your work office, create a specific spot that is exclusively for work-related activities. If you keep your two worlds physically separate, you can more easily detach yourself from the stress related to your job when it’s time to curl up on the couch. If you don’t have a spare area to designate as your home workspace, you can set up a lightweight foldable table that can be put away at the end of the day.

How to bring feng shui into your workspace

How to bring feng shui into your workspace

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When choosing a spot to create your workspace or home office, Dong suggests considering a few elements based on principles of feng shui. “First, you will want to have a good view, face away from the corner or walls. Second, the background should not be too distracting with an overabundance of accessories [because] it will distract line of sight. Third, consider light,” he says. Be mindful of Zoom camera angles and good lighting as well.

Add depth to work areas

Add depth to work areas

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If you’re working from home for the foreseeable future, it makes sense to transform your space into something more visually interesting. Dong recommends adding depth to your work areas, especially your virtual meeting spaces. “You can move your computer monitor around when teaching or learning for shifting angles to mimic presenting in a three-dimensional space. These may seem like common solutions, but to me they are deeply thought out using the principles of yin and yang,” he says. While working from home during coronavirus, you can also use these tips to boost productivity.

Be more sustainable

Be more sustainable

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If you prioritize sustainable living, you are already on the right track. “Sustainable development and green design is a concept that is suited to feng shui: in harmony with our environment,” Dong says. For example, sustainable practices encourage the use of local materials that haven’t had to travel thousands of miles emitting pollutants into the air, like buying from a local farmer’s market as opposed to a chain grocery store. Dong says if you dig a little deeper, you’ll notice that sustainable living has similar concepts to feng shui. “Both work with nature, not against it,” he adds. You can start by being more sustainable in your everyday life, and that could be something as simple as eliminating plastic water bottles to transitioning your home to solar power. 

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